“I’m sorry that you feel that way.”
“I’m sorry, but I just get so angry when you say you don’t understand me.”
“I’m sorry I snapped at you earlier today. You did not deserve that. Will you forgive me?”
All three of these statements include the words I’m sorry. Which one of them is a true apology? If I know you as Veritas parents, you are training your children to confess their sins, apologize sincerely and ask for forgiveness. It took time to train our sons that any apology that began with “I’m sorry, but…” was not an apology. I still have a laminated sheet that has these beginning phrases for young children to fill out: “I’m sorry for ____. This was wrong because _____. In the future, I will _____. Will you forgive me?”
The Bible has much to say about confessing our sins, apologizing, and forgiving. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” and Ephesians 4:32 states, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
What are the steps we could take to bring us to reconciliation with someone we have wronged?
1) Confess our sin to God, ask His forgiveness, and come to an understanding of what we have done to hurt the other person before we…
2) Go to the person and say “I’m sorry.” Period. Not “I’m sorry, but…” We will not state why we were justified in acting the way we acted.
3) Take responsibility for our actions, being careful to focus on the impact our actions made rather than the intent so that it doesn’t seem like we’re making excuses.
4) Ask the person to forgive you.
So why is this so difficult for many of us? There’s nothing like the holidays to bring out the joy, the wonder, the excitement, …the bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness that many of us are holding on to, the pride that keeps us from repenting and humbly seeking reconciliation with someone we have wounded. Jesus was sent to us to do the Father’s will and demonstrated over and over again that He was given the authority to forgive our sins (read Matthew!). During this beautiful season, let’s continue to seek His will and remember to forgive as He has forgiven us, staying grounded in His Word and His truth.
Forgiven so that I can forgive,